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I am wondering if the biometric information collected by Apple's Health app stays local on my iPhone, or if it's being sent to Apple?

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Unless you choose to backup your data to iCloud, none of your data will be sent to Apple. Even if you do choose to backup your data to iCloud, that data is encrypted - meaning only you can access it.

Apple’s privacy policy is here and you can request Apple send you all the data they have and inspect the health data yourself to know how / when / what was collected based on how you set up your accounts and sync options combined with how iOS is programmed.

However, you also decide what 3rd party apps, if any, you want to have access to your health data. These can be set via the Health app directly or via Settings > Privacy > Health. So make sure you check their privacy policy if this concerns you!

To quote Apple directly:

The Health app lets you keep all your health and fitness information under your control and in one place on your device. You decide which information is placed in Health and which apps can access your data through the Health app. When your phone is locked with a passcode or Touch ID, all of your health and fitness data in the Health app — other than what you’ve added to your Medical ID emergency card — is encrypted with your passcode. You can back up data stored in the Health app to iCloud, where it is encrypted while in transit and at rest. Apps that access HealthKit are required to have a privacy policy, so make sure you review these policies before providing apps with access to your health and fitness data.

Source: Apple

In a nutshell, only you (or anyone who knows your passcode or has a fingerprint set on your iPhone) have control of your health data.

  • Wrong. We don’t know. Apple employs key escrow in some cases. See, e.g. : developer.apple.com/documentation/devicemanagement/… – Matthew Elvey Jan 19 at 22:53
  • @MatthewElvey Can you elaborate how macos key escrow is relevant for the iOS health app or iCloud? – bmike Jan 19 at 22:58
  • Sure. I do at the bottom of my answer to this question, starting with the PS. – Matthew Elvey Jan 19 at 23:58
  • ...which was recently downvoted to -1, without comment!?!? May the truth rise to the top. – Matthew Elvey Jan 20 at 18:40
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Yes, if you ask it to, either by enabling backups of allowing it to share it with another app that does. Can Apple see the information? We don’t know. I came here to find out if we had an answer after reading that privacy policy in the health app. The text quoted from the policy doesn’t answer the question. The assertion by Apple that the information is encrypted while at rest at Apple doesn’t mean that Apple is saying it doesn’t have (or have access to) the keys to decrypt it. In the case of messages content, as I recall, we do have Apple’s assurance that it is encrypted AND Apple doesn’t have a way to decrypt it other than on the user’s device.

Someone should contact Apple’s privacy officer to get an answer. Here, perhaps.

PS: The false claim that “data is encrypted” - means “only you can access it” is dangerous misinformation. See, eg Secrets and Lies: Digital Security in a Networked World By Bruce Schneier , Chapter 13 on Key Escrow, AKA GAK, etc.

Specifically, it is well documented by Apple that it’s at least sometimes the case that even though on Apple devices, a user’s data is encrypted, Apple has access to it due to Key Escrow, that is, it is NOT the case that “only you can access it” see link in my comment on the other answer.

  • I’ve updated Monomeeth’s answer - we do know, you can request it, and it’s quite well documented how Apple stores your private health data. Perhaps another question on key escrow would be productive and linking here? This is about health data and not so much iCloud backup or encryption as I read it. I appreciate your input - just not sure it’s in the correct thread. – bmike Jan 19 at 22:55
  • If it’s well-documented then I’m happy to be proven wrong. Show us the documentation you claim exists. You haven’t done so with your major edit to Monmeeths answer. – Matthew Elvey Jan 19 at 23:14
  • ... at least not with the excerpt you added. I haven’t gone through the entire policies recently. – Matthew Elvey Jan 19 at 23:22
  • I hope it becomes clear that even when you send your encrypted data to Apple they cannot decrypt it. It simply isn’t at this point, clear, based on the evidence on this page. – Matthew Elvey Jan 19 at 23:45
  • OK I’ve gone thru the relevant policies, which were updated (on 12/31/19) and found nothing to lead me to question my PS. – Matthew Elvey Jan 20 at 0:10

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